Jonah Berger's
Contagious:
Chapters 3 & 4

by Aruna Singh

In Chapter 4, Berger discusses how products or ideas must be public in order to be shared. What are counter examples to this?

Jonah Berger gives many examples as to how observability increases conversations about certain products or ideas. An example of a public company that understands this idea is Apple. Did you ever notice that when an Apple laptop opens, its logo is facing an outside observer rather than the owner? This follows the idea that seeing the logo will encourage more people to buy the product.

In contrast, health is usually a private issue that really does not receive a lot of public coverage. The Movember Foundation figured out a humorous and novel way to strike up public conversation about private issues. Simply put, they challenged men to grow mustaches and leave their faces unshaven for one month. The extremely bearded faces of men would usually strike up conversation and then the followers would deliver their passionate statements for the cause of men's health. It was an ingenious way of taking something private and making it public.

Now keep in mind that the idea of observability is strict. If you see it, you might want it. An example of this is seeing that you neighbor has purchased a new car and going out to purchase one for yourself. On the other hand, if you don't see it, there is no way of knowing if you want it. For instance, you neighbor may have some great paint colors on their wall, but if you've never been inside to see those colors, then you wouldn't know if you want them or not. But how about taking something that is not observable and making it very popular?

The most simple example I can think of is RueLaLa. Rue LaLa is a website that hosts scheduled flash sales of high end products. These flash sales are only observable to those that are members of the website. How do you become a member, you ask? You must be invited. RueLaLa has basically introduced a new website sales model that became wildly popular and profitable. But, how did this happen if the website was not observable to everyone? The idea is basic. People yearn to feel that they are part of some exclusive group. Therefore, the sight may have been impossible to see, but wanted to be a part of it because that is the only way they can see it.